Why do you put Tilak?
Tilak is a traditional mark to identify devotees of Krishna. Tilak is made with sacred clay from a holy place in India, and it marks the body as a temple.
It is worn to remind the wearer, and everyone else, that within the body resides the individual soul and the Supreme Soul, Krishna.
It is a stamp of Lord Krishna’s lotus feet and His great devotee Tulasi on one’s body declaring that this body is the property of Krishna and should be used in His service only.
What are those beads around your neck?
The neck beads that Krishna devotees wear are meant to symbolize submission to God. They serve to remind the person wearing them and those who see them that we are all servants of God, or Krishna.
The beads are made from Tulasi wood (basil plant). Although Tulasi appears in the material world as a plant, she is a great devotee of Krishna. So by wearing Tulasi beads, we please Krishna.
What does Hare Krishna mean?
“Hare Krishna” refers to the Sanskrit prayer we sing (the Maha-mantra, or “great chant for deliverance”) and to our group. Since we are often seen chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, we are referred to as the “Hare Krishnas.”
Srila Prabhupada came to the United States from India in 1965 to introduce the Western world to bhakti-yoga, which features the chanting of Hare Krishna as its main spiritual practice. Prabhupada represents a lineage of teachers dating back into antiquity, but which was revitalized 500 years ago by the incarnation of God named Lord Chaitanya.
The voluminous Vedic scriptures of India contain everything we need to know about how to live happily in the world while we realize our spirituality and our relationship with God. These scriptures describe many methods of spiritual attainment, but they specifically recommend the chanting of Hare Krishna as the most effective method of God realization for the time we live in.
Since God is unlimited, He has unlimited names, with different purposes and meanings. The purpose of the Hare Krishna prayer is to awaken us to our eternal nature as servants and lovers of Krishna.
The Hare Krishna mantra is composed of three Sanskrit words: Krishna, Rama and Hare. Krsna and Rama are both names for God. Krishna means “the all-attractive,” and Rama means “the supreme pleasure.” We can approach the all-attractive Supreme Lord, and experience the supreme pleasure of His company, through the help of His devotional or pleasure energy, Hare.
Placed together the words of the prayer mean “O Lord, O energy of the Lord, please engage me in Your loving service.” By chanting Hare Krishna we become purified of material conditioning and become reinstated in our normal eternal position.
What do you do in your temples?
The temple is a place to especially remember God and deepen our relationship with Him. It’s a holy place to develop community with others through glorifying God and increasing our understanding of spiritual knowledge.
Our temples are open to the public. Although services are held throughout the day, most visitors come for the special Sunday program, the “Sunday Feast.”
A typical Sunday Feast program consists of a formal ceremony called arati in which deities (forms of Krishna) are worshiped to the accompaniment of sacred songs sung by the congregation. This is followed by a lecture on the Vedic scriptures. At some temples there might be a play or more singing. The festival always includes a vegetarian feast of delicious food that has been prepared for and offered to the Lord.
Why do you worship cows?
Because all living things are part of God, all life is sacred and worthy of respect. The Supreme Lord is most worthy of honor and respect, and the Vedas teach that whatever or whoever is dear to God is also sacred–fit to be worshiped in relation to God.
Krishna is known as Govinda, “the Lord of the cows.” The cow is sacred and fit to be honored or worshiped because she is dear to God. Worship or honor given to the cow is pleasing to God. If human beings can have favorite animals, why not God? Since the cows are dear to Krishna, they are also dear to his devotees.
The cow is also dear because of her gentle nature and her important service to humanity. Cows provide us with milk, “the miracle food,” which the Vedas consider an ideal food for health. It helps develop the brain for understanding religious and philosophical topics. Since the cow supplies us milk, she is considered another mother. We don’t think highly of a society that practically worships pets but sends cows to be slaughtered.
Why do you worship Tulsi plant?
Worshiping Krishna’s devotees is an essential feature of devotion to Him. Sometimes great devotees appear in forms other than the human form. One such devotee, whose worship is central to the worship of Krishna, is Tulasi. She serves Krishna in the form of a plant, and devotees worship her in that form. Full of love for Krishna, she can give it to others.
Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.15.19) explains the special position of the Tulasi plant: “Although there are numerous flowering plants full of transcendental fragrance in the spiritual realm, they are aware that Tulasi is given special preference by the Lord, who garlands Himself with Tulasi leaves.”
In her form as a plant, Tulasi always stays at the Lord’s feet and around His neck. (Her leaves and flowers decorate His feet and are strung into garlands to be worn around His neck.) The Vedic scriptures say, “Krishna gives Himself to a devotee who offers Him merely a Tulasi leaf and a palmful of water.”
The wood of dead Tulasi plants is used to carve sacred beads devotees wear around their necks and use for chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
Q. Could you please let me know if we can eat bhindi/okra/ladysfinger on Ekdashi? Also can you please explicitly list the items that are in the category of beans and grains?
A. Bhindi, or lady’s finger, is one of the prohibited vegetables for Ekadashi; you cannot take it on this day.
Beans include: Papadams, tofu, tempeh Continue reading Ekadashi food items
1. What is the difference between heart and soul?
1. It seems you wish to know the difference between heart and soul. Soul is the life or consciousness that we see in a living body. Soul is the real person, the individual, who animates the body. When we say “I” or “You,” we are actually referring to the soul in that body. The body is simply a dress that covers the soul.
Heart is the region of the body where the soul is located.
Q. Why do you chant in the streets?
A. Most scriptures of the world, and particularly the Vedas, extol the chanting of God’s names as a powerful means of spiritual realization. Someone who enjoys their spiritual life naturally feels inclined to share it with others. This enthusiasm caused the founder of ISKCON to not only teach Krishna consciousness, but to organize his early students as a formal society for the purpose of teaching others. Devotees of Krishna, therefore will often be found in public places performing sankirtana, by chanting with musical instruments, as introduced by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu 500 years ago.
Q. Do you meditate?
A. Members of the Hare Krishna movement practice mantra meditation. In Sanskrit, manah means ‘mind’ and tra means ‘freeing’. So a mantra is a combination of words that is meant to relieve the mind of anxieties arising from worldly entanglement. Vedic literature compares the mind to a mirror, and our present state of spiritual forgetfulness to a mirror which has accumulated dust. Mantra meditation clears the dust from the mirror of the mind so that we can see our original self. When our spiritual nature is inwardly perceived, then the anxieties caused by illusion cease, and we experience spiritual happiness.